Airlines that operate international destinations from Nigeria made over N302 billion ($15 billion) from ticket sales in 2015. The airlines included European mega carriers, US carriers, African and indigenous operators. Among the major carriers emirates earned the highest money of N50 billion, followed by British Airways with ticket sales of N48 billion during the period. Also, Air France sold tickets worth N26 billion, Virgin Atlantic Airways, N16 billion, Ethiopian Airlines, N23 billion, Lufthansa, N17 billion, Delta Air Lines, N17 billion, United Airlines, N15 billion, KLM, N16 billion, Qatar Airways, N12 billion, South Africa Airways, N9 billion and Turkish Airlines N11 billion. A total of 31 airlines including the indigenous carriers, Aero Contractors, Arik Air and Medview Airline operate international and regional destinations. There are airlines such as African World Airlines, Air Cote d’ Voire, Alitalia, Asky Airlines, Cam Air, Egypt Air, Etihad Airways and Iberia.
Other airlines include Middle East Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Rwanda Air Express, Saudi Airlines, Sudan Airways and Kenya Airways. Industry experts said that comparatively the 2014 ticket sales was more than that of 2015 by a slight margin but there would be a gulf in the amount of tickets sold in 2015 and the tickets that would be sold this year because of Nigeria’s ailing economy and the sudden increase in fares by foreign airlines which discourages travel. Records from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has already shown that there are fewer aircraft movement in the early part of this year compared to that of last year; the same with the passenger movement in the same period. FAAN’s historical passenger traffic showed that 2011 to 2014 had the highest number of passenger movement, which began to slide in 2015 and is predicted to decline further in 2016 due to the economic downturn. For example, the domestic terminals of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos processed over four million passengers in 2014, while it processed over three million passengers in 2015. Also, the international wing of the airport processed over three million passengers in 2014, while it processed about two million passengers in 2015. The drastic drop was attributed to the fears and uncertainties that characterised the 2015 election.
“There is going to be a significant slide because you can see that one of the biggest carriers that come to Nigeria, BA has changed their equipment from Boeing B747 to Boeing B777 and I just learnt that they are going to drop a frequency in Lagos from seven times a week to six times a week. How many people are going to be travelling with this low value of the Naira?” a source said. Also industry observer, Simon Tumba supported the view that less tickets would be sold this year because many parents whose children and wards are studying abroad have withdrawn them because of the high exchange rate to the Naira and government recently announced that top government officials would no more fly business class. “Businesses are yet to pick up; everybody is talking about the budget, so it is about the law of supply and demand; definitely less tickets will be sold this year, Tumba said.